Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Photos

These four photos below were taken when I was about 30 years old.










And this was taken at my 60th birthday celebration at NYC's The Water Club.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New York Film Festival




I went today to The New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall to see, "Translating Edwin Honig: A Poet's Alzheimer's," a short documentary film by Alan Berliner. It is an excellent, remarkable, and very touching and moving film.

"Remember how to forget. No more."

Edwin Honig: eight poems

A View from the Street

This is a view of the street, looking south, in front of Lincoln Center. My pool is on the top floor of the building on the left. The views all the way up there of the Hudson River are amazing and the sunsets are glorious.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Me and Alice Quinn

In the early 1990s, I submitted many poems for consideration to THE NEW YORKER magazine. They were all rejected. This was a form rejection from Alice Quinn, who until 2007 was the poetry editor of THE NEW YORKER.




I was persistent, and the rejections began to have a personal touch. This was a rejection that was different from the generic form rejection. It was in 1991, and was for my poem, "April's Dance." I wanted to believe that the poem reached the next level and "the decision" then involved several opinions. It filled me with hope because I thought it indicated a few editors wanted to accept and publish my poem.




My notes indicate this rejection was for "Sweating Madness," which originally had the title "Shvitzin' Meshugas." The original poem had a joke about fallopian tubes, but after subsequent changes to that poem the reference was removed. Alice Quinn called my poem, "charming!" Then she added, "Always feel free to try us with your work." This rejection actually said my poem had "evident merit." I was deliriously happy and excited.




This rejection came in 1994 and was for the poem, "Nap Time." Alice Quinn said, "I appreciate seeing your work."




It did not matter that my poems were not accepted. Ms. Quinn validated the merit of my work. And for her grace and kindness, I will always be thankful. Many of the poems that were submitted to THE NEW YORKER appear in the memoir, "marjorie-pentimenti."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography 1950-1970

Yesterday, I went to the Bruce Silverstein Gallery to view:
Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography 1950-1970.

Eliot Porter (1901 - 1990)



Marie Cosindas



Pete Turner (b. 1934)



Ruth Orkin (1921 - 1985)



Ernst Hass (1921 - 1986)



Harry Callahan (1912 - 1999)



Inge Morath (1923 - 2002)

A literary tour, Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Morningside Heights

This is from a blog entry of April 2010.

This is 454 West 20th Street, where Jack Kerouac, in 1951, wrote "On The Road."


I stood in front of the door through which he must have passed so many times.


And this is the southwest corner of West 20th Street where: "Dean, ragged in a motheaten overcoat he bought specially for the freezing temperatures of the East, walked off alone..."


"and the last I saw of him he rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again."


In her heartfelt memoir, "The Awakener," Helen Weaver writes about her love affair with Jack Kerouac. She met him in November 1956, when at 7:00 on a Sunday morning he arrived with Allen Ginsberg at her apartment in 307 West 11th Street. This is a photo of that building that I took today.


After Helen Weaver viewed the above photo, she told me at her website in her own blog (in a reply to one of my comments) that her "window was on the lefthand side above the picture frame." I had actually taken several photos, so here is one that I believe gives a view of her window... which I think is either right behind the blue bag dangling from that tree or the window to the right of that blue bag. You can see the windows more clearly if you click on the photo to enlarge it.


This is a view of the White Horse Tavern from the front of 307 West 11th Street.


This is now 325 West 13th Street, which is the location where Helen lived when she met Lenny Bruce. I do not know when this building was built... and it looks fairly new. The building where Helen lived may have been torn down for the construction of this newer apartment house.


This is 346 West 15th Street and it is where Allen Ginsberg lived from 1951 to 1952. It is where Jack Kerouac was introduced to Gregory Corso.


And this is a view of the block.


This is 149 West 21st Street and it was where Lucien Carr lived from 1950 to 1951. He and Jack Kerouac were friends and Jack visited him often. Bill Cannastra also lived in a nearby building that is now a parking lot.


And this is a view of the block.


added on January 21, 2010:
This is the front door of 421 West 118th Street, where Jack Kerouac lived with Edie Parker in the early 1940s.


This is 421 West 118th Street.


This is West 118th Street, looking toward Morningside Drive.

Walking Sideways on a Spiral Staircase

After I retired, I wrote pieces on education that were published as "Letters" in THE NEW YORK SUN. I was looking through the clippings the other day, and although the collection is too extensive to repost here, I am going to cull a few blurbs from selected articles I wrote and retype them for this blog.

from: "When Students Run the Show," 1/2-4/04 I can recall a beginning teacher who crafted creative, fine lessons. But classroom management was difficult for her and she could have used some administrative guidance and support in the handling of her class. One day, a second grader in her class slammed a closet door into her back and then ran away and laughed. She brought him to the principal and later it was she who received a disciplinary letter! In the principal's office, the child had been interviewed about the teacher's performance and his misbehavior was blamed on the teacher's weak behavior modification program.

from: "The Stepford Teachers," 7/20/04 ... a discussion of the problems in the New York City schools has "jumped the shark." The 2 1/2 hour (reading) block is so micromanaged that it includes prepared dialogue for the instruction of the children. When teachers help students choose a "just right" nonfiction book, they are told what to say in order to model thinking.... But, experienced traditional teachers would consider this learning model to be a major farce, where education has moved into the surreal world of "The Stepford Wives." As more time passes, the articles on education seem to have deteriorated into redundant pieces "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

from: "Going Back to Basics," 8/11/04 (re: phonics replaced by phonemic awareness) I am not surprised that classrooms filled with fascinating leveled libraries (with books grouped by genre) are not motivating students. If you never learned to play chess and some benefactor filled your home with the most expensive and beautiful sets, would you not first have to learn, step by step, how to to play the game?

from: "The Turning Tide," 8/24/04 During my 34 years as a NYC teacher, I have seen some pretty ludicrous letters written by principals for teachers' files. One teacher was written up for "teaching with two handbags on (her) arm." She also was reprimanded for replying "I'll try" when directed to handle a class. The principal stated that her response did not meet the accountability for a New York City scool (sic) teacher!" And the latest tactic is to accuse teachers who "yell" of corporal punishment.

from: "The Spin Doctors," 10/06 At almost the end of my 34 year long teaching career, I was directed to change the seating arrangement in my classroom from rows to groups and (to) develop an atmosphere of "productive noise" and (to) construct mini-lessons. The new "balanced literacy" model was filled with layered components and the classroom was mandated to have visual and heady appeal. A student shortly pleaded to "go back to the old way of learning" which was a more no-frills and basic textbook approach. I discussed this with my supervisor and I was told it was my fault the students didn't like the new style. I had not properly motivated the students or successfully implemented the model.

And I was a teacher whose classes during instruction and learning were so quiet, visitors to the room "could hear a pin drop!" Parents requested placement with me because I was known as one of the teachers who could handle a sixth grade class, and the work I gave was very much admired. I stopped writing on education one bleak day when I finally thought: "Stick a fork in me, I am done!"

"Ours to Fight For"



from the Museum of Jewish Heritage:
Ours to Fight For: American Jews In the Second World War
November 11, 2003 - December 31, 2006
"The inaugural exhibition for the Robert M. Morgenthau wing, Ours To Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War was named the grand-prize winner of the Excellence in Exhibition Competition at the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Citing the exhibition's use of the first-person narrative, the judges felt this approach engaged museum visitors and allowed them to make connections with the experiences of soldiers 60 years ago and troops serving today. The exhibition companion volume, Ours To Fight For: American Jewish Voices from the Second World War, chronicles the experience of American Jewish men and women who came together with other Americans to heed their nation's call to arms."
A photo of my father, dressed in his army uniform, was part of the wall filled with photos of Jewish soldiers who fought for their country during WWII. The display looked out to the Statue of Liberty. It was a very moving exhibit.
www.ourstofightfor.org/index.jsp
OURSTOFIGHTFOR

In 1990, Jackie Mason weighed in


... what comedy career?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Rich and Rewarding Life

Here are some class photos of my long career as a proud teacher.
Jon Hamm, in Parade magazine: “I got into acting because my teachers kept nudging me into it,” says Hamm, who taught school himself for a few years after graduating from the University of Missouri with an English degree. “The power a teacher has to influence someone is so great. I can’t think of a profession I have more respect for.”
from:
Parade magazine

I was a teacher in NYC for almost 35 years. I have close to 35 class pictures to help reflect on my long career. I had read in the UFT paper, "The New York Teacher," about the long career of Regina Sayres, who is now 100 years old. She was a teacher at PS 41M in 1968 during the time of that long teachers' strike. I was a teacher at PS 41M during that time when
Ms. Sayres was there, and at a place when she was perhaps ending her career... mine was just beginning.
I looked through all the class photos in my collection, and I selected many for inclusion in this blog. They represent the four schools in which I taught... and the memories come flooding back. (please click on each photo to enlarge)








The year was 1973, and I was teaching grade 6 in a public school in the theater district of Manhattan. I entered my class in an essay contest sponsored by Bella Abzug and one of my students won. She went to Washington, DC to read her essay. I found this photo: Charity goes to Washington. And I also found the (now very wrinkled and faded) letter I received informing us that she won. That was over 35 years ago. It seems like so long ago. I guess it was.



This was my fourth grade class at PS 33 in 1986. The next year, when they were in the fifth grade, these students were chosen by Eugene M. Lang for his "I Have a Dream" college scholarship program. Over twenty years later... I am wondering: "Where are they now?"


And most bittersweet:


The year was 1974. I was teaching at a small school on West 45th Street. I had a wonderful 6th grade class. The students were bright, creative, and they had a real sense of humor. The school was on the same block as the Actor's Studio, the Manhattan Plaza had just been completed, and on nice days I could walk home. I loved going to work.
One day, a student named Christopher came to school a little bit late. I asked him the reason for his tardiness, and he told me that the night before he had attended an opening of a movie in which his father had a role. I asked him the name of the film, and he replied, "Godfather 2." "Oh," I said. I asked, "What part did your father have in the movie?" He replied, "Frankie Five Angels." I did know that Christopher's father was the playwright who had written "Hatful of Rain." But, I did not know that he was in the film, "Godfather II." So! Christopher's father was "Frankie Pentangeli;" interesting... Godfather II, was released and it opened at a Loew's theater on Broadway. It received phenomenal reviews and I couldn't wait to see it.
Soon thereafter were parent-teacher conferences. I am lucky Christopher was an excellent student. I do not think I would have had a comfort level sitting across from that father and giving a bad report. Mr. Gazzo had written a note to me during that school year asking permission for his son to be excused early on an October day and I saved the note. It was not just a signed note, it was an autograph.
A few months later, the Gazzo family moved to Los Angeles. Christopher kept in touch with all of us through letters he sent to the school addressed to me. In one letter, Christopher asked me if I was still singing because I was awful. I was a teacher who sang while she taught? He said he was going to a school 20 times better but he would rather be going to our school because he missed all of us.
I think about all of the students I had in so many classes over the years. Eddie, who died of a drug overdose. David, who fell off the roof of his building one hot summer day when he was up there with his brothers playing ball. Debbie, who was crossing 9th Avenue and was hit by a car. Brenda, whose mother we saved.
Larry David was asked why he still works. He clearly does not need to work. He said his mother had told him many years ago that we all need to always wake up in the morning and have a place to go. I had a place to go.


Didn't Mr. E's secretary leave out the 's' in comprehension in #4? He should have proofread that letter!